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The Education Opportunity in Opportunity Zones

July 2019

John P. Bailey


The article quickly identifies an important cause of lack of economic development in distressed areas: lack of access to capital needed for these projects. It also shows that philanthropy is concentrated in only a few areas, mainly urban areas such as New York City, while lacking in rural areas of the country. The author points out that previous incentives of a similar nature have been hard to label as successful, so it is hard to see if opportunity zones are a fix to this issue by focusing on investors rather than projects. Additionally, opportunity zones are mentioned to have been connected to gentrification, but the author remains hopeful that not only are these cases spatially limited, but are not actually cases of gentrification, but rather poverty concentration. Despite these risks, education around these opportunity zones are important, such as sharing best practices, and having access to philanthropic support. Education can be a powerful asset to a community when invested in, so developers are encouraged to work with them to expand and upgrade. This is not limited to K-12 schools. Post-secondary education centers, workforce training centers, and entrepreneurs are also highlighted. The author suggests that investment is “not guaranteed just because a community is designated an Opportunity Zone” and it is up to local government to support the people who can benefit

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Policy Implications

Based on the article, I have made the following assumptions: local policymakers and officials should be active in encouraging the types of development they want to see in Opportunity Zones. Instead of being passive, they should work with residents to prioritize the projects that will benefit them the most. State and local policymakers should take opportunities to ensure that the developments in these areas are beneficial to the residents because there are no federal stipulations that require developers to do so.

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